Background: The care responsibilities for cancer patients are frequently handed over from one healthcare professional to another. These handovers are known to pose a threat to the safety of patients and the efficiency of the healthcare system. Little is known about specific needs of cancer patients in handovers. The objectives of this study were to examine cancer patients' unmet needs for information and coordination in handovers and to analyse the association between patients' demographic and clinical characteristics and unmet information and coordination needs.
Methods: Cancer patients treated in an oncology and a surgery outpatient setting completed a questionnaire developed to examine unmet information and coordination needs of cancer patients in handovers. Associations between unmet needs and comorbidity, treatment type, time since diagnosis, gender, age, and education in various handover situations were analysed.
Results: Of 250 eligible patients 131 participated (response rate of 52%). Overall, 18% of patients had unmet coordination needs and 18% had unmet information needs.Hospital discharge was the type of handover where patients most frequently reported unmet information needs (18%). Unmet coordination needs were most frequently reported in handovers between different hospitals (19%) and in handovers between hospital and general practice (18%). In general, age and education were statistically significantly associated with reporting unmet needs, where patients younger than 60 years and patients with a higher education were more likely to express unmet needs.
Conclusions: The findings indicate room for improvements regarding exchange of information and coordination between healthcare professionals, and between healthcare professionals and patients.